Violence in ‘Django’ historically accurate

I am writing in response to the Feb. 25 letter complaining that the violence depicted in “Django Unchained” was not historically accurate. It is true that the KKK did not form until after the Civil War; however, this group was, in fact, a reincarnation of the antebellum slave patrol, which performed many of the same functions.

The writer’s biggest criticism is that the film’s seemingly gratuitous displays of violence are also historically inaccurate. I can assure her, they are not. The testimony of former slaves is filled with accounts of torture, rape and brutality that would make even Quentin Tarantino wince.

I’ll give but one example. Harriet King was a young slave in Texas whose sadistic mistress would purposely leave candy and other treats where the child could find them but would not allow her to eat them. One day, when Harriet was too hungry to resist the temptation and took a piece, her mistress called her to her side to ask if she took the candy. When she admitted it, her mistress punished the girl by making her lie down under her rocking chair and repeatedly rocking over her face, breaking her jaw, which never healed properly and left her unable to eat solid food for the rest of her life.

Why would this woman want to damage her “investment” in this way? Simply because she could. Unfortunately, the barbarity the writer complains of is not a figment of a modern-day imagination.

Carole Emberton

Assistant Professor of History

University at Buffalo